New Year, New Reads, New Plans

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This is my first read of the new year, We All Fall Down by my friend Karen Cimms. It’s the second in her Of Love and Madness series, and I was lucky enough to beta read this one (and the first one) for her. I was thrilled when it arrived in the mail just in time for the turn of the year. (Which reminds me, I need to start a “read in 2017” shelf on Goodreads. I’ll do that when I’m finished with this post.)

I’m setting a goal for myself to read at least 100 books this year, and I’d like at least half of those reads to be indie books, so I’m off to a good start with this one.

I’ve got another goal, and that is to finish writing at least one book this year. I’m currently working on two of them, plus writing for Scotland Now as their Outlander correspondent, which is pretty fabulous, to be honest, but it leaves me less time for book writing. At the moment, I’ve got one manuscript (the one about turnips and aliens) sitting at 40k, marinating like a pork chop in a nice vinaigrette, and another at 15k, which is shaping up to be some kind of paranormal something set at a Renaissance festival.

Last year at this time, I decided to try some new things on the writing front, and put out a lot more in terms of freelance work. I also did a few things I was really afraid to do, such as giving a speech about writing at my former high school, and reading an excerpt of  my book Slither on the Horror Addicts podcast, which, if you missed it, you can listen to here https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/horroraddicts-net-131-valerie-kinney/

In 2016, I had twenty articles or short stories accepted for publication at various outlets, not including the pieces published for Scotland Now. I also had two longish short stories accepted into anthologies – A Mother’s Heart in the Gems of Strength Anthology by The Sisterhood, and Misadventures of Mercy, which will be out sometime this year in the Super Market Anthology by Draconian Publishing.

Heckled released nearly one year ago, January 9, 2016. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long! And my super heroine short stories in the KAPOW anthologies by 7DS Books came out right around that same time as well.

So even though I feel a little frustrated that I haven’t finished another book just yet, I can look back and see I have accomplished quite a lot over the last year.

Going forward, I’m going to attempt to reign in my scattered focus and get at least one (if not two!) books completed this year. I’d like to see if I could sell a couple more short stories, and keep putting out freelance work. I’ve got to stop crocheting chickens (maybe next week) and finish the big blankets that are sitting here, sadly getting shoved around from place to place while I ignore their loose ends to make more chickens. I’ve gotten myself a set of knitting needles and am going to learn to knit. I’m going to attempt for the ninety bajillionth time to quit caffeine, and I’m going to seek out and attend more events where my husband can wear the new kilt I just bought him. I’m planning to do more with this little blog, and hopefully get a website made… though that’s something I feel like I say every year.

Before you ask, yes, I did dye my hair a new color  for the new year (burgundy), but no, those aren’t highlights streaking the front. It’s olive green paint, because we just painted my daughter’s bedroom and I didn’t think of covering my hair before I did it.

Luckily for me, burgundy and olive green tend to be complimentary colors, because it isn’t washing out, not even a little.

Now, I’m heading back to the writing cave for a while… right after I hit up Pinterest for directions on how to build a princess dog bed out of an old end table and ten yards of tulle.

 

 

 

 

Indie Pride Day

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Here we are once again, celebrating indie authors on the day set aside to blow up social media feeds with pictures of ourselves with indie books we’ve written or read. This is the third year I’ve been involved with the movement, and it’s pretty cool, seeing all the support that we give to one another.

Being an indie author is a neat thing. I’m proud of the work I put out, and while I realize the weird stuff I write is not for everyone, there are those who do enjoy it and reach out to tell me that my work had an impact on them, or how much they enjoyed it. That means a lot to me, to my heart. My books might seem a bit odd to some, but they are real and true to my vision of the story, and that’s the part of being indie I love. I don’t have anyone telling me what I need to add or take out of my story to make it more mainstream. There is plenty of mainstream work out there. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read mainstream books as well… I just also like having the option of writing and reading books that have more unusual plots and characters.

I also love being part of the indie community, of the other authors who lift one another up with post shares, book buying, and being there for one another on difficult days when writing is hard. Cover designers, editors, formatters, and book bloggers also make up part of this community, and have proven to be some of the neatest people I’ve ever met online.

I’m proud of myself for taking the leap to start writing books, and I’m proud of my indie friends for doing the same. It’s a scary thing, putting your art out there for people to see. They might love it, or hate it, or completely ignore it. Sometimes we get nasty messages or emails about our work from people who seem utterly miserable with life. Sometimes we get beautiful reviews. Sometimes we can’t get a solitary share on a link about our writing, and we feel invisible. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but still one I’m glad I buckled myself into. The ride itself has been worth it.

That’s the thing to remember, I think. It’s easy enough to get caught up in the idea of where we are going; where our ranking might be next year at this time, or if we hit a bestseller list, or if we get picked up by some big publication. But the journey is the part to enjoy. We’ve made this art, and it is ours. Our vision, our heart and soul, our own unique ideas written out that we can hold in our hands, and share with others. That’s not something everyone can say they’ve done. It’s the writing itself that’s important. It’s the Doing of the Thing. It’s this moment, right now, where we are working toward a goal that means the world to us. That is the success.

These pictures are just some of my favorite indie authors. Many indie books I own are ebooks on my phone, so I can’t take photos with them.

Help us celebrate Indie Pride Day. Tell me some of your favorite indie authors.

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Help me help others.

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I love buying indie books.

When I hold them in my hands, it’s almost as if I can feel a piece of the author’s strength.

Writing a book is hard. Publishing a book, well, that takes a particular sort of strength.

It’s more than hard work. It’s taking your raw soul and sticking it out on the front porch, where passerby might point and laugh at it.

There’s always that risk. And here’s the thing: we are aware of that risk before we hit the publish button.

We do it anyway.

We do it because for the 99 people who might point and laugh, there is one who doesn’t.

For that one reader, we might build a connection. That connection is worth it. It’s worth it to me.

It’s worth it for so many other indie and small press authors I know.

I love weird art. I love attending craft fairs and coming across some tiny booth with a nervous artist who isn’t sure of themselves. They’ve toiled for months over their idea, struggling, failing, trying again.

They’ve loved their weird little idea so much, they’ve stayed up past midnight, long after the kids are in bed, knowing they’ve got to be up early for work. They’ve sacrificed money and valuable time and brought their art to a craft show or Ren Faire or Farmer’s Market, and they stand there, shifting around, hoping someone will stop by and notice their pieces.

These are the people I try to support. If I’ve got a choice between supporting Wally World and their cheap, mass-produced items or purchasing a creation born of love and independent spirit, I’m going to choose the struggling artist every time.

I rather desperately want a yarn bowl. I know a girl taking classes, learning to make vases and cups. Her skill set isn’t yet at a place where she can make me what I want, so I will wait. It might be another year or two. I would rather purchase a unique yarn bowl from someone I know.

I love imperfect art. When one edge is a little lopsided, that’s the one I choose. And I love to get to know other artists and have the opportunity to watch their art improve over time, to watch that spark of joy in their eyes when they’ve almost made their vision into reality.

I work so hard to help support other artists because I understand that feeling of having this great idea inside and desperately itching to make that idea into something tangible. When an artist finds their perfect niche, it’s an amazing thing to watch. The focus, the sacrifice, an artist is willing to make to see their idea come to fruition.

When I make a profit selling my books, I try always to take a portion (sometimes it’s a very small portion) and feed that back into the indie community. Because I love to read and write, I very often use that money to buy indie and small press books. By supporting indie and small press authors, I’m also helping to support their editors, cover artists, and formatters. It helps all of these people get the opportunity to make more art.

Or I might buy a single from a new indie band. (FYI, check out Deadman Fall.) Or a crooked piece of jewelry from a new crafter.

Sometimes, I pay my bills and take care of my household and there is no extra money to do this. But I still want to be supportive. So I write reviews for indie and small press books and post them on multiple sites. I share those reviews on Twitter and Facebook. I add books to my Pinterest book boards. I shout on social media about indie books and indie music that I love. I share artist’s pages and websites. These things cost me nothing but time, and I’m willing to stay up a little later, or get up a little early, to make the time to do it.

Most of my readers have followed me for a little while now, and if you’ve read much of anything on this blog before, you know I’m the parent of children who live with chronic illness. Medical appointments are frequent, the hospital is a long drive, and insurance doesn’t always cover the cost of medication. If you’ve followed me anytime within the last year or so, you probably also know that I was injured at the last job I had. Combined, these circumstances make it difficult for me to work at a “regular” job.

I write. A lot. I’m trying to get my work out there. I need help to do that.

I don’t have a big name, or extra money to spend on promotion. I have this little blog, and social media, and the wonderful people who take the time to purchase my work and read and review it.

I have you. I can’t fully express how grateful I am for the people who take the time to read this little unfancy blog in its tiny corner of the Internet. You follow me on social media and share my work. Thank you. You add me on Goodreads. Thank you. You tell your friends about my books.

THANK YOU.

Because of you, my lights are still on and there is watermelon in my fridge. Because of you, the dogs’ kibble dish is full and my kids aren’t going hungry. Because of you, I have gas in my tank to get to doctor appointments.

Some of you guys I don’t even know, but you keep showing me support. You rock.

I can’t afford big giveaways or promotional stunts. Money around here is tight and my wallet has eleven cents in it.

I can’t pay people to shout about my work.

What I’ve got is one indie book and one book I signed with a small press to publish.

What I’ve got is a sincere desire to help support other indie artists.

What I need is help.

When you choose to help support me and my writing, you are helping more than just me. You are helping my family. You are helping the editors, cover artists, and formatters.

You are helping me help support other artists.

As long as I am making money on my books, I will take a portion and use it to support some form of art.

If you follow me on social media, you will often see me take pictures of myself holding up indie and small press books I’ve bought. Authors don’t ask me to do this. I do it because I believe in supporting creative people who are brave enough to put their work out there. (Incidentally, I LOVE when people post pictures of themselves holding up one of my books and tag  me. It makes me smile the entire day. Thank you.)

I promise to continue putting my money back into the indie community.

Will you help me help others? Will you check out my books, and buy them if you are able? If not, will you share my writing on social media? Will you help me keep making art, and supporting others who do?

I would so appreciate it if you would.

Thanks. You guys rock.